Muamba Tragedy Unites Sports Fans.
First of all before I say anything at all let us pray for Fabrice Muamba and hope that he makes a full recovery from his terrible cardiac arrest in the recent Bolton V Tottenham FA Cup game.
One of the things that will always be present in any form of sport is danger.
Whether it’s football (I’m praying for you Fabrice), skiing (I’m thinking of you Sarah Burke), boxing (I’m thinking of you Michael Watson) or any other sport the danger is always present.
Danger is intertwined with sport in so many ways. Face up to the fact that you watch a lot of sport for its inherent sinister undertones. Indy car racing, formula one and other car racing sports attract a morbid fascination.
If you haven’t seen the recent documentary drama “Senna” yet, then see it for it is a must watch for sports fans everywhere.
Some sports carry more danger than others obviously. Boxing has long had a campaign waged against it to have the sport banned but watching two people stand toe to toe and slug it out can either be something beautiful (in the case of Ali) or very brutal and ugly (in the case of Tyson) or just unedifying if you don’t like watching big guys bash up the little guys which is the case with the Klitschko brothers.
Boxing is one of those sports where people can rise out of a gutter upbringing and make something of their lives. This is why it is held in such high regard.
Sure it’s a brutal sport but watching someone with the heart of a lion and a granite chin makes us realise how mortal we are and how high you have to set your ambitions to make a difference and become a contender.
Rugby is a peculiar sport in that it requires a certain kind of thuggery to be any good at it and it is played most often by kids from posh schools because that is where they play the game.
Future doctors, lawyers and barristers all enjoy kicking shit out of some poor sap that ends up on “the wrong side” in the name of a good game. Injuries are accepted as part and parcel of the game although eye gouging and testicle pulling are definitely not.
But football though, football is the beautiful game. Hundreds of thousands of people descend on football grounds every weekend to watch 22 men kick a ball about. Serious injury is not part of the routine and that is why the tragic case of Fabrice Muamba has hit such a common cord of empathy with supporters.
Muamba’s plight though is not without precedent and probably the most cited case of having a cardiac on the pitch is that of Marc Viven Foe who collapsed and died of a heart condition whilst playing for Cameroon against Colombia in the 2003 Federation Cup semi-final.
When these events occur we are reminded of our own mortality and whilst we all might know of or hear stories of people who have suffered heart attacks the last people you expect it to happen to are fit and healthy athletes in the prime condition of their lives.
It is at times like these that the true sports fan stands up and gets counted. When referee Howard Webb abandoned the game (and didn’t he do well) there was applause from every corner of the ground.
Fans were not thinking of themselves and the entertainment they had paid to watch but rather started to pray for the wellbeing of one of football’s star players.
All too often the humble sports fan gets it in the neck paying over the odds for tickets, travel, awful pies and overpriced coffee but when events like this happen you can be sure that they will act with humility and respect.
For the essence of watching any sport is the acknowledgement that there is a price that no one is prepared to pay over the odds for.
Get well soon Fabrice; we are all rooting for you.